Vacation Simulator is a relaxing change of pace from the typical first-person shooter. The game lets you explore a world full of familiar whimsy, with a few new twists on classic gaming tropes.
The vacation simulator is a virtual reality game that allows players to explore the world of their dreams. Players can choose to be a painter, an architect, or even an astronaut. Players are able to travel through time and space in order to make friends with other characters.
Job Simulator (2016) was an ideal first VR experience as a day-one launch title for HTC Vive, PSVR, and Oculus Rift’s Touch controllers; it’s so simple that anyone can put on a headset and start exploring the comically bad interpretation of what human jobs must have been like after an apparent robot takeover. After a few years (it’s 2060 if you’re keeping track), the robots are back at it, this time attempting to resurrect the forgotten art of vacationing. You’re probably wondering if Vacation Simulator is just more of the same at this point. It both is and isn’t. And those are also positive attributes.
Like Job Simulator, its new laid-back younger sibling is built around a few core concepts of funny and weird object interaction; you’ll recognize things like photocopiers printing actual 3D items, computers with binary keyboards, quippy robots, and plenty of whimsical food preparation (turn an instructional guide into a waffle! cover it with motor oil! eat it!). The sequel, on the other hand, focuses on providing a wide range of little activities in a number of vacation locales while keeping everything under one plot thread.
You have complete freedom to wander about the three vacation spots—the beach, the forest, and a mountain area—at your own pace and basically do whatever task you want, in any sequence you like.
Each job you complete gets you a ’memory,’ which is immediately added to your wristwatch; you’ll need five of these memories from each region to unlock a level’s single bonus zone and progress to the next chapter.
The robots are desperate to discover out how and why humanity vacationed, but you’re always up against Efficiency Bot, the show’s boss, who can’t help but measure everything in the hopes of delivering a simulation that’s perfectly optimized. Vacation Bot, your main companion, believes that humans go on vacation for fun (of all things) and don’t need to be optimized. The plot is straightforward and straightforward, yet it serves as a wonderful way to bring everything together.
There are about a dozen bots in each area, half of which are main quest givers. That said, there’s a surprising lot of things to do, ranging from building puzzle-like sand castles on the beach to painting with a very cool Bob Ross-inspired bot in a forest tree house. In the Immersion part below, I’ll go through NPC interaction in further detail. It’s safe to say that each player will find some actions dull and others intriguing, so how you play the game is entirely up to you.
You can acquire a basic-level memory by sampling all of the activities, or you can finish all three difficulty levels in a single action to gain all three. If you choose the ‘simple sample’ option, you’ll only need to drill down and accomplish a few more intermediate-level activities in the final stretch to get past the final stretch, which requires a total of 30 memories collected across all three holiday sites.
Despite the fact that you must complete a set amount of chores in order to progress in the game, you are essentially left to your own devices to do whatever you find most intriguing and amusing. Personally, I found it to be a refreshing change of pace that was also rather calming.
A skiing machine that required you to shift your controllers left and right to avoid obstacles was my personal favorite mini-game. When you jump on the treadmill, it speeds up and tilts the entire machine downward, creating a really interesting (and comfortable) jump effect. Cooking has always been and will continue to be my least favorite activity. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t appeal to me, and it was pleasant to bypass it totally in favor of puzzles and movement-focused activities like ball or slingshot hunting for hidden targets rather than creating a strange burger and playing delivery boy.
It’s still a terrific first VR experience, which is probably why it’ll be available on Oculus Quest this Christmas season. It firmly establishes a larger serving of meat on the bone for the series while being accessible to almost everyone. It didn’t make me laugh out loud, but it is a weird, lovely brand of humor that grows on you. It’s corny, but in a way that’s endearing.
I’m sure it wasn’t simple to strike the appropriate balance between offering people a set of rigid A-to-B directions and flinging them into a swath of varied activities at random. The game is well aware of this fact, which is represented in the conflicts that arise between Efficiency Bot and Vacation Bot. In the end, Vacation Simulator is a little bit of both, and I found it more intriguing in that regard than Job Simulator.
Going for the bare minimum, I finished Vacation Simulator in about 3.5 hours, while there are still a slew of activities to complete if you have an all-access pass to the entire game. There are also goodies everywhere, such as game cartridges that you may play on your home base’s antique tube TV. They’re simple little games, but they’re a lot more interesting than your normal collector sort of “find a thing for points.”
Vacation Simulator’s bright and cartoony world is low poly, but it’s also a really nicely crafted environment that owes much of its immersion to the hard-won object interactions pioneered in Job Simulator. You’ll find yourself tinkering with and quickly snapping things into place that need to be, such as hamburger ingredients, a sandcastle piece, or a cheeky polariod snap from your trusty camera. These Lego-style things make interacting with the world’s objects a breeze.
Because you’ll be transporting goods from one holiday place to the next, the game includes a rucksack attached to your back that you may pull out by reaching behind you. There’s nothing quite like pawing through a floating 2D inventory to disrupt the immersion, so this was a wonderful touch.
The avatar creator is also a new addition to the series, and while I don’t think a single player game requires one, Vacation Simulator places a premium on sharing selfies and in-game images. You are, nevertheless, a floating head and pair of hands, just like in Job Simulator. This bothers me personally, but I can see how it might hinder from immersion in general.
You can also use an experimental camera to record video, which you can then mirror to your monitor to give streamers a more realistic look at the action.
When it comes to communicating with NPCs, it’s as easy as waving at them and they’ll offer you a task. It’s a far cry from having to press a button to choose a response or start a conversation, and while it takes away some of your personal agency, being able to simply wave and initiate a conversation is far more immersive than being bombarded with quest prompts, effectively allowing you to wander around and experience the world at your own pace, unaffected by the actual mountain of tasks ahead of you.
Almost everything in Vacation Simulator goes off without a hitch, which is a key part of the immersion experience. When you can’t trust the world around you to react as it should, the spell of immersion is shattered, and you start becoming upset with technical issues when you should be enjoying the game’s deliciously strange little world. However, I was unable to locate an option for a two-sensor setup that would allow me to snap-turn. Although most activities were front-facing, this wasn’t a deal breaker for me, I would have preferred the option to allow me to take things in more easily.
Because the game gives a new flexibility of mobility, node teleportation is used to get about, similar to Owlchemy Labs’ Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality (2017). Each activity includes a single node and a room-scale play space of approximately six feet squared (or two meters).
Teleportation, in whatever form, is one of the most comfortable artificial locomotion technologies. The remainder is accomplished through room-scale movement, which is by far the most natural method to experience VR and is just as pleasant as walking around in the real world.
You have a few tools at your disposal if you’re a seated player or shorter than normal. While there is no dedicated ‘seated mode,’ you can adjust the environment to make it smaller, which allows you to play sat. That may be found in the bag, which also contains the game’s fundamental settings.
The tables itself include adjuster bars that allow you to raise or lower them depending on your height—perfect for bringing small children into the game for a quick session.